Formal Complaint Filed Against Vancouver City Council

by lewwaters

Vancouver City CouncilCity Council meetings are notoriously boring with the occasional spat of sparks flying. Most are barely attended as simple matters merit little attention from citizens. But when an issue arises that does get the attention of citizens, many schedule their time to appear and speak their view on whatever the issue is before city council.

That is a right of citizens and city ordinance recognizes that in the procedures to implement ordinances and changes to ordinances, scheduling time for citizen input during hearings on the issue.

If that does not happen, citizens are being denied their right to speak before council and we run the risk of shutting citizen out, subjugating ourselves to 7 people elected to office.

Citizens do not take lightly to having their rights trampled on as the denial of the right to speak before city council ends up doing.

Be it by accident or whatever, we saw just this happen at the March 4, 2013 Vancouver City Council meeting where several citizens came out to speak on proposed changes to VMC. 17.32 and ordinance changes to 17.08 and 17.34 as well as Title 22 of VMC, concerning the abatement of unfit dwellings, buildings, structures and premises.

According to the compliant lodged by Carolyn Crain,

“The city attorney and staff made a decision to alter section 6 and some portions of section 7 after the first reading and prior to the hearing which by procedure requires the hearing be rescheduled. It also by procedure requires a re-reading of the first reading into the record or in essence it scraps/discards the original first reading and creates a new first reading of the revised language. At that March 4th hearing / non-hearing now a re-reading of the first reading the council made an error in deciding that those citizens who were present to speak on the subject could not speak after all and needed to return for the new hearing which had a new date set of March 18th 2013. This disenfranchised those citizens in their right to address council on an agenda item which is what it became when it was set back and proceeded to be re-read as a first reading on March 4th in council meeting.”

Also filing their own complaints were Vancouver residents Penny Ross and Dennis Henry, in case city council tries to disregard Mrs. Crain’s complaint since she lives a couple blocks outside the city limits.

What happened on March 4th is clear, citizens were scheduled to speak on this proposed change to city municipal code were denied that right and instead of scheduling two separate meetings where citizens could express their view, they were granted one, the meeting where the final was to be taken, March 18, 2013.

The ordinance was approved this evening with what appeared to be little attention paid to citizen views.

While this proposed change does not reach the level of something like the CRC, citizen concerns should heard before such changes are made and along with being heard, taken into consideration before approval or denial by city council, regardless of the merits of the ordinance.

At the March 13, 2013 city council meeting, the disenfranchisement was brought up during the citizen forum and City Attorney Ted Gathe admitted council was in error in how they handled it, but no action was taken nor was a second hearing scheduled to comply with written procedure.

We cannot take this lightly as we have seen increasingly that government at all levels is moving away from the traditional role of “The government of the people, by the people and for the people” as well as what is stated in the very beginning of the Washington State Constitution where it says, “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.”

We are seeing more and more where the people are being dictated to with the expression from some we elect that once in office, they were elected to act on their personal views, not on the views of those they are elected to represent.

Such an attitude is seen in a comment left under a Columbian article (since removed apparently, but a copy was saved) concerning the ongoing controversy over the CRC and light rail by 49th Legislative District Representative, Democrat Jim Moeller where he expressed,

“It doesn’t really matter if Clark County is ready for or wants light-rail – it’s coming and it’s currently part of the proposal.”

That the votes of Clark County voted down the proposal of light rail by a 2 to 1 margin and have since been denied another vote, the proposal was brought back up before local government and commissions and approved.

We saw it when Mayor Tim Leavitt, after blatantly lying his way into office, tried to further limit citizen input on CRC & light rail saying city council has nothing to do with the decision, even though 3 members of the city council sat on the board that chose the ‘locally preferred alternative,’ light rail.

And now we see citizens being disenfranchised again by the city council and Mayor Leavitt as once again, citizens are denied the right of their voices heard and heeded in the adoption of an ordinance change.

In the complaint lodged by Mrs. Crain she asks for “a sanction or corrective action of the Mayor to be taken on the part of the council with regards to the blocking of the citizens right to the three minutes that should have been afforded us to speak on this agenda item. I expect reprimands for the same be placed in the employment files of both the city attorney Ted Gathe and the city manager Eric Holmes.”

Whether or not proper action will be taken remains to be seen. Given that previous complaints lodged against this Mayor were cast aside, I won’t be a bit surprised to see ‘Teflon’ Tim Leavitt slide by again.

12 Comments to “Formal Complaint Filed Against Vancouver City Council”

  1. It’s high time that “Teflon Tim”became “ex- mayor Tim”; the bastard seriously needs to be thrown out of office along with that arrogant ass Jim Moeller.

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  2. I feel this issue along with the one that the three of us plus a couple of others were set to speak on at the council session on the 4th are extremely important. I had raised an issue of the ordinance declring that “paint peeling” might be a reason for “dangerous and unfit” based on their codes. Tonight after they had argued that no such thing would apply I listened as they said it specifically would! Hello! How many seniors are on fixed incomes and will be struggling to pay their taxes with the constant increases that the city votes for year after year. How about if we consider cutting them a break and not requesting immediate compliance and payup within ten days! I am perpetually shocked at the way the staff say nonchallantly “that is not our policy or normal standard” and “this is a complaint based statute” as if anything that is verbal intent in that meeting tonight is okay and therefore we will pass laws that do not expressly print that intent and indeed print the opposite! A very loosey goosey bad ordinance was passed tonight and now the only way it gets changed is through the election of a much broader base of new council persons or legislators who force the change from the top down. By the way both Dennis and Penny were so angry two weeks ago I could hardly keep them contained.

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  3. Thanks for the posting Lew!

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  4. Carolyn, I expect, like last time, the little lazy c will have nothing to say about it until Teflon Tim slides again.

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  5. RCW 42.30.010
    Legislative declaration.
    The legislature finds and declares that all public commissions, boards, councils, committees, subcommittees, departments, divisions, offices, and all other public agencies of this state and subdivisions thereof exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business…

    The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them.

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  6. Action can only be taken against council members. Council members can take action against the City Manager who in turn can take action against the City attorney. Someone needs to take action. Thanks, Carolyn!

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  7. What these folks fail to realize is the corrosive effect of this kind of action (or lack thereof) on the public’s respect for the rule of law. Ultimately you end up like Detroit, where no-one pays any attention to city ordinances and in fact, no one really gives a crap. But, so long as these careless and sloppy loafers keep getting re-elected, this sort of casual disregard is what we’ll get.

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  8. Mayor Leavitt is the one who led the charge to alter the long held practice of citizen comments at all regular meetings of the Vancouver City County, cheered on by Jeannie Harris, Burkman and most of the council. Jeanne Stewart was and has always been a champion of citizen input. Now Citizens are restricted to input only on agenda items during many meetings, and in this case even that was not done.
    I was at a meeting where citizens who came to speak at one of the few open citizen comments meetings, and were shut out by Mayor Leavitt!!
    Vancouver needs a better Mayor, one who considers and accepts citizen input from those who travel to City Hall for that express purpose and who will restore open citizen comment.

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  9. Tim Leavitt denied me the right to speak once, too. Come back next week, he said. I did. Now he wants me to go away. I think he wants us all to go away.

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  10. They want us to just be sheeple, doing what we are told, when we are told and go where we are told.

    All across the country people are being fooled into accepting a resurgence of the failed Soviet Union where personal liberties are non-existent and everything is by the state.

    You will have nothing except what the state says you may have while the elites of the state live a life of luxury.

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  11. 3-7-77
    Organize a Vigilance Committee.

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  12. We have been vigilant. Perhaps not totally organized though. I have been attending for about four years the city council and the county commissioners meetings. I attend almost every C-tran meeting and many RTC meetings. I attended the Battleground and the Vancouver as well as the Clark County Waterfront Shoreline MGMT Act meetings. These all impact our community through transportation, housing, business development, and environmental issues. I report on these in a monthly news letter to the Republican Women in Clark County and on some that I find critical to people like Lew here for further outreach to inform the public. I contact legisltors and send highlights of legislation that impacts us locally. More people attending is really what we need to speak up and sway the mis-perception that everybody agrees with them. I am willing to teach people how to hear what they need to hear. The really important part is that. You may attend a meeting that doesn’t do anything or maybe you think it doesn’t do anything when in fact it does a ton of directional policy making. Like the ordinance they passed last night is a “complaint based” ordinance. So anybody have a grouchy nosy pushy neighbor? How about anybody belong to a neighborhood association? These are who will complain if you are noisy or your grass is too long or, or, or. These people are who ill make it hard for some of us to live next door. The language in the section 6 is addressing was is dangerous and unfit for habitation so why does it address harm to property? That is a financial issue not threat of health or life. What does harm to property mean? Does it mean my grass is too long and therefore unsightly? Does it mean my paint is peeling? I think it does and in the meeting last night they suggested it did not and then followed that up with the description of a house with peeling paint! Some older person may not have the physical ability to fix that issue for themselves and they may not have the financial ability to afford to pay to have it done. This ordinance could cost them their home! NOT OKAY! That language was poorly done if the statements of practice are genuine and perfectly done if the intent is to create open ended options to mandatorily remove people from their own property. I am really sick about this.

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